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The Hard 100: The Hardest Sport Climbs in the World (2023 Edition)

LAST UPDATED: 11th June 2023

We are living through a truly interesting era in climbing evolution. The rate of progression within the world of free climbing has never been this exciting. The bar for the hardest climbing routes in the world is constantly being edged forward, far past a standard many once thought was possible.

Imagine journeying back to 2001, the year Sharma below the collective minds of the climbing community by serving up the first 9a+/5.15a ascent of Realization/Biographie at 20 years old. This was a milestone that sent shockwaves throughout the sport-climbing world and hailed the beginning of a new era of sport climbing. Of course, this is just the tip of the very large iceberg that is the Sharma legacy, with the Calaforina-native going on to make an ascent of Jumbo Love, the first consensus 9b/5.15b in 2008, amongst many other awesome achievements. 

Fast-forward to today and you’d be amazed to find the once exclusive 9b climbers club now bustling with members. As we stand in June 2023, 54 climbers have muscled their way up a grade 9b or harder. Among these elite spider-men and women, approximately 38 routes 9b or harder were ticked in the 2022/2023 season alone, with Seb Bouin adding yet another gnarly ascent to his tick list by putting up an FA of 9c.

With a rollercoaster of new, heart-racing developments hurtling in at breakneck speed, we have the pleasure of presenting the “Hard 100: Sport Climbing Edition”. This riveting collection showcases the most grueling sport ascents to date, coupled with a buffet of juicy tidbits to satiate your climbing curiosity.

A Timeline Of Sport Climbing

Wolfgang Gullich on Action Directe ©Thomas Ballenberger

Before we embark into the craggy terrain of the world’s hardest climbing routes, let’s tip our helmets to the trailblazing feats that have set the stage for the modern standard of hard sport climbing. Because without these gravity-defying crushers of the past, the exhilarating, skyscraping standards of today’s climbing feats would still only remain the stuff of dreams.

Here are some golden milestones in sport climbing history that deserve a standing ovation:

  • 1961:Thimble, John Gill  – Gill sends the first 7a+/5.12a in history. What makes the ascent even more impressive was that it was a solo ascent.
  • 1983: The Face, Jerry Moffat – First consensus 8a+/5.13c.
  • 1990: Hubble, Ben Moon – Recognized as the first consensus 8c+/5.14c in history, although some (like Adam Ondra) suggest it might be more like 9a.
  • 1991: Action Directe, Wolfgang Gullich – Gullich puts up the now iconic line in Frankenjura, Germany, which is considered the first 9a route.
  • 2001: Realization/Biographie, Chris Sharma  – Sharma’s first ascent in Céüse, France ushers in a new era of climbing by establishing the first consensus 9a+/5.15a in history.
  • 2008: Jumbo Love, Chris Sharma – The first route to receive a consensus grade of 9b/5.15b and undoubtedly still one of the hardest routes ever climbed in North America.
  • 2012: Change, Adam Ondra – The first proposed 9b+, ushering in the Age of Ondra.
  • 2017: Silence, Adam Ondra – The first ever 9c climb and the current limit of what’s possible to climb on a rope.

The Hard 100: The Hardest Sport Climbs In The World

Angy Eiter on La Planta de Shiva 9b – Javipec / ASP / Red Bull Content Pool

Without further ado, take a look at the table below for the complete list of the world’s hardest climbing routes in 2024.

RouteGradeDate of FACountryClimber
B.I.G5.15d (9c)September 2023NorwayJakob Schubert
DNA5.15d (9c)April 2022FranceSébastien Bouin
Silence5.15d (9c)Aug 2017NorwayAdam Ondra
Bibliographie5.15c (9b+)August 2020FranceAlex Megos
Stefano Ghisolfi
Sean Bailey
Sébastien Bouin
Jorge Diaz-Rullo
Change5.15c (9b+)October 2012NorwayAdam Ondra
Stefano Ghisolfi
Seb Bouin
Excalibur5.15c (9b+)Februray 2023ItalyStefano Ghisolfi
La Dura Dura5.15c (9b+)February 2013SpainAdam Ondra
Chris Sharma
Mejorando La Samfaina5.15c (9b+)Februray 2023SpainJorge Díaz-Rullo
Perfecto Mundo5.15c (9b+)May 2018SpainAlex Megos
Stefano Ghisolfi
Jakob Schubert
Sleeping Lion5.15c (9b+)March 2023SpainChris Sharma
Alex Megos
Jorge Diaz-Rullo
Suprême Jumbo Love5.15c (9b+)November 2022USASébastien Bouin
Vasil Vasil5.15c (9b+)December 2013Czech RepublicAdam Ondra
Zvěřinec5.15c (9b+)November 2022Czech RepublicAdam Ondra
Beyond Integral5.15b/5.15c (9b/9b+)October 2020FranceSébastien Bouin
King Capella5.15b/5.15c (9b/9b+)March 2021SpainWilliam Bosi
Alex Megos
Jakob Schubert
La Rage d’Adam5.15b/5.15c (9b/9b+)September 2019FranceSébastien Bouin
Move5.15b/5.15c (9b/9b+)August 2022NorwayAdam Ondra
Sébastien Bouin
Wonderland5.15b/5.15c (9b/9b+)March 2022ItalyAdam Ondra
B Je To5.15b (9b)September 2023CroatiaAdam Ondra
Ali Hulk5.15b (9b)November 2007SpainDani Andrada
Magnus Midtbø
Domen Škofic
Ali Hulk Sit Start Extension Total5.15b (9b)July 2019SpainJonatan Flor
Jorge Diaz Rullo
Daniel Fuertes
Laura Rogora
Dave Graham
Alex Garriga
Gonzalo Larrocha
Dani Moreno
Ariégeois Cœur Loyal5.15b (9b)April 2023FranceSébastien Bouin
Bomba5.15b (9b)March 2022ItalyAdam Ondra
Brooklyn5.15b (9b)March 2023FranceLoïc Zehani
C.R.S.5.15b (9b)November 2015FranceAdam Ondra
Cafe Solo5.15b (9b)November 2021SpainJorge Diaz Rullo
Chaxi Raxi5.15b (9b)April 2011SpainAdam Ondra
Chikane5.15b (9b)April 2022FranceLoïc Zehani
Cryptography5.15b (9b)May 2020SwitzerlandAlessandro Zeni
Disbelief5.15b (9b)July 2018CanadaAdam Ondra
Eagle 45.15b (9b)February 2018FranceAdam Ondra
Hugo Parmentier
Julia Chanourdie
Pierre Le Cerf
El Bon Combat5.15b (9b)March 2015SpainChris Sharma
Jakob Schubert
Felipe Camargo
Jorge Diaz Rullo
El Picacho5.15b (9b)May 2021SpainJonatan Flor
Erebor5.15b (9b)January 2021ItalyStefano Ghisolfi
Laura Rogora
Adam Ondra
Jakob Schubert
Stefano Carnati
Event Horizon5.15b (9b)May 2022USAJonathan Siegrest
Fantasia5.15b (9b)April 2023FranceLoïc Zehani
Fight Club5.15b (9b)August 2016CanadaAlex Megos
Fight or Flight5.15b (9b)May 2011SpainChris Sharma
Adam Ondra
Jakob Schubert
Sachi Amma
Matty Hong
Piotr Schab
First Round First Minute5.15b (9b)April 2011SpainChris Sharma
Adam Ondra
Alex Megos
Stefano Ghisolfi
Jorge Diaz Rullo
Golpe de Estado5.15b (9b)December 2008SpainChris Sharma
Adam Ondra
Harlem5.15b (9b)September 2022FranceLoïc Zehani
Iron Curtain5.15b (9b)August 2013NorwayAdam Ondra
Sébastien Bouin
Jumbo Love5.15b (9b)September 2008USAChris Sharma
Ethan Pringle
Jonathan Siegrist
Sébastien Bouin
L’Arenauta5.15b (9b)February 2022ItalyStefano Ghisolfi
La Barriere5.15b (9b)August 2018SwitzerlandPirmin Bertle
La Planta de Shiva5.15b (9b)April 2011SpainAdam Ondra
Jakob Schubert
Angela Eiter
Jonathan Siegrist
Jorge Diaz Rullo
Jonatan Flor
La Vie5.15b (9b)August 2022SpainJonatan Flor

After spending several days scouring the internet and scrolling through social media, I have pulled together the list you can see below, which is the most complete list of hard climbing routes and ascents on the internet. Logging hundreds of ascents isn’t as easy as it sounds, and there are undoubtedly a couple of errors or omissions here. If you spot anything that isn’t quite right, please drop a comment at the bottom of the page or send us an email!

How Many Hard Routes Are There?

Chris Sharma climbing Sleeping Lion 9b+
Sharma on Sleeping Lion ©Ricardo Giancola

As of June 2023, there are 90 routes graded 9a+/9b or harder, which is pretty crazy considering we got our first taste for 9b+ (Change, Adam Ondra) a little over a decade ago. Even in the last year, plenty of new lines have made it onto our list of the hardest sport climbs. Perhaps one of the most noticeable milestones to happen in the last year was Seb Bouin clipping the chains on DNA in April 2022.

Even more recently, Jakob Schubert claimed the third confirmed 9c in September 2023 after he sent Project Big, making it one of his biggest climbing achievements to date. But if we put 9c climbing aside for a minute, there has also been a huge increase in the number of 9b+ sport routes in the last year.

Five new 9b+ lines have been established in the 22/23 season; Excalibur (Stefano Ghisolfi), Mejorando La Samfaina (Jorge Díaz Rullo), Sleeping Lion (Chris Sharma), Suprême Jumbo Love (Seb Bouin), Zvěřinec (Adam Ondra). This is a whopping 100% increase from the number of 9b+ routes that were established in 2021.

GradesNumber of Routes
9c 3

Who Has The Most Hard Ascents?

seb bouin on DNA 9c climbing
Seb Bouin on DNA, the second 9c in the world ©christianadam

Must this question even be asked? Even without seeing the data, I bet you can guess which climber has bagged the most ascents of 9a+/9b or harder. 

Yes, unsurprisingly, Adam Ondra has claimed the most ascents routes graded higher than 9a+/9b. That probably doesn’t come as a shock but what is interesting, however, is that of 90 routes on our list, Ondra has clipped the chains on 41% of the established routes 9a+/9b or harder. To put that into perspective, Seb Bouin, the second biggest crusher on this list, has only claimed 15% of the lines on this list.

ClimberNo. or ascents 9b/9b+ or harder
Adam Ondra37
Seb Bouin15
Stefano Ghisolfi14
Jakob Schubert12
Alex Megos12
Chris Sharma10
Jorge Díaz Rullo9
Loïc Zehani8
Jonatan Flor7
William Bosi3
Sachi Amma3
Dani Andrada2
Laura Rogora2
Jonathan Siegrest2
Alex Garriga2
Matty Hong2
Pirmin Bertle2
Angela Eiter2
Iker Pou2
Sean Bailey1
Magnus Midtbø1
Domen Škofic1
Daniel Fuertes1
Stefano Carnati1
Dave Graham1
Gonzalo Larrocha1
Dani Moreno1
Alessandro Zeni1
Hugo Parmentier1
Julia Chanourdie1
Pierre Le Cerf1
Felipe Camargo1
Piotr Schab1
Ethan Pringle1
Steve McClure1
Eder Lomba1
Josh Ibbertson1
Hyunbin Min1
José Luis Palao1
Bernabé Fernández1
Edu Marin1
Sindre Saether1
Yu Okumura1
Jernej Kruder1
Jan Hojer1
Tommy Caldwell1
Carlo Traversi1
Michal Mikušínec1
Minyoung Lee1
Sergey Shaferov1
Daniel Woods1
Marcello Bombardi1
Tommy Gió1
James Litz1

Another interesting observation here is that of the 54 climbers on this list, only 3 are female. Angela Eiter and Laura Rogora are leading the charge for the ladies, both with two ascents of 9b to their names. Angela Eiter also made the FA of Madam Ching, a line she developed in her home country of Austria. This was the first female FA of 9b, which is an amazing achievement. Julia Chanourdie is currently the only other woman to claim a 9b route, with her ascent of Ondra’s Eagle-4 in November 2020.

Which Country Has The Hardest Climbs?

Europe continues to be the epicenter for hard sport climbs. In fact, 89% of all routes graded 9a+/9b or harder can be found in Europe, with Spain being home to 33% of all the routes on this list. Only 8 climbs on this list are in North America and 2 in Asia. There are currently no climbs in the Southern Hemisphere that qualify for a spot on our list.

GradesNumber of Routes
Czech Republic3
United Kingdom1
South Korea1
Bosnia and Herzegovina1

Hardest Sport Climbs FAQs

Sam Laird

Quite likely the only idiot currently hauling a 70-meter rope and four pairs of climbing shoes around the world. Sam lives for backpacking, adventure, and of course, climbing. If he's not exploring crags and getting shut down on new projects, you can find him sharing his passion for climbing in publications such as Climbing Shoe Review,, Gear Junkie, and UK Climbing.

8 thoughts on “The Hard 100: The Hardest Sport Climbs in the World (2023 Edition)”

  1. Marm Kilpatrick

    Great job compiling this! One small typo:
    The table header, right column for: Who Has The Most Hard Ascents? (Adam Ondra, 37) says “9b/9b+”, but I think you mean 9a+/9b since that’s what all the other parts of the page refer to.

    1. Thanks Marm, it definitely took a lot longer than I expected to pull all this together! XD
      So this wasn’t a typo, I was intending to show only 9b/9b+ ascents in this table… although now that you mention it, it does seem a little out of touch with the rest of the page! Thanks for the feedback, I will get this sorted in the next round of updates.

  2. Another interesting observation is that from the 54 climbers who have 9a+/9b ascents, 12 are Spanish. It is obviously related to the fact that 30% of these hard routes are in Spain, but still, considering the popullation of each of the countries that appear in the list, I find it remarkable…

    1. Great spot Raúl! It’s very impressive how strong the Spanish climbers are when you put it like that. I think we need a section on nationalities on this page too, I will update the page shortly. 🙂

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